LEGO Star Wars | R2-D2 [REVIEW]
Theme: LEGO Star Wars
Name: R2-D2 (75308)
Price: €199.99 | $199.99
For the 50th anniversary of Lucasfilm Ltd, LEGO have recreated the most iconic droid in all of Star Wars. This Buildable Character is a remake of the UCS R2-D2 which came out in 2012. With that said, this set officially isn’t a UCS set, instead slotting itself into the Brick-Built character subtheme. This is a set I’ve wanted since I built the BB-8 set in 2018, so let’s see how it fits in.
The set uses the same 18+ boxart that we all know and love at this stage. It might just be a mixture of the soft blue lighting and the smooth model on the box, but it feels much ‘cleaner’ than usual, for whatever reason.
Opening the box reveals another, smaller box inside. The smaller box contains a random assortment of numbered bags and the instruction manual. It would’ve been nice if the box contained the manual and the first 6 bags instead, I think. It would’ve made sorting the bags a little bit easier, but it’s not a big deal I suppose.
Instead of an imperial/republic logo, they decided to include a silhouette of R2 and C3P0 above the set name. it’s a subtle change, but seeing LEGO go that little extra step is always appreciated. Similarly, they include a small badge on the side which informs us that it’s the 50th anniversary of Lucasfilm, making it the only set this year to do so.
A nice detail on the backside of the box is the inclusion of a screenshot of R2 from every trilogy. It feels only appropriate to include this as a celebration of Star Wars as a whole.
The instruction manual follows the same format as the helmet collection sets, with a copy of the boxart on the front, and the star wars logo on the back. The first page of extra information is laid out exactly the same as the helmet collection and Probe Droid sets. Although the preamble here continues for a few more pages, giving you a solid backstory for the character. There’s some cool behind-the-scenes information and pictures included as well, which was interesting to see. Not an excessive amount here, but plenty to get you into the spirit of building the character.
The set comes with your typical R2-D2 astromech figure, as you’d probably expect. For my money, this doesn’t really count as a minifigure, but it’s worth mentioning regardless.
This inclusion is perfectly in line with the other buildable characters, so LEGO are keeping with the uniformity across their product range here.
Although looking similar to the regular R2 astromech droid, there are a few improvements made here.
I think the body section is meant to be the exact same design as before, but my copy was the victim of misaligned printing. Specifically looking at the lower half of the body, I noticed that some details were shifted to the left, other shifted to the right, and some shifted downwards. Comparing to my other R2-D2’s, its clear that there were some printing issues here.
The head piece is where things get interesting. Comparing to my own R2 figures (pre-2020) I immediately noticed that the blue seemed ‘richer’ than before. Then I noticed that the details were noticeably sharper than usual too. The hologram projector to the right of the red light is larger and sharper on the figure from this set. The quality of the printing is above the standard R2 figure, from what I can see anyway.
The blue square sections that line his head are larger on this figure too. I noticed they even filled out the blank space around the head more, leaving only 1 small blank spot on the back left as opposed to two. LEGO have changed some of the detailing at the back completely too, which is an improvement for sure.
If you already have an R2-D2 figure from 2020 onwards, these comparisons are pointless. If you’re like me though, and have had the same R2 figure for ~3 years, then it’s a noticeable improvement.
The build experience was a lot better than I expected, and I expected it to be pretty good. It surprised me in that you start by building the third leg before expanding the body around it.
The Third Leg
The build for the third leg and its functionality was easily my favourite part of this build. Theres some incredibly clever technic mechanisms in there that blew my mind when I figured out what they did. It uses some elastic bands, some technic pins with a ball top, and some black magic to get it to deploy when you tilt the body to the correct angle.
I’ve been so impressed by these techniques LEGO uses these days. They’re genuinely nothing short of engineering genius. Similar to the cartridge feature on the NES and the door-deploy-spinning feature on the ECTO-1, I found myself constantly playing with this feature just appreciating the mechanism behind it.
Theres a very simple but elegant technique used in R2’s feet to prevent him from tilting forward. Essentially there’s a technic piece that slides in between two ‘rollers’ but doesn’t directly connect to them. Normally this would mean the body could tilt back and forth, but the placement of a 2×1 modified plate piece prevents this. It’s a tiny consideration on the designers part but the effect it achieves is brilliant for such a small design choice.
After building the front body panel as its own subassembly, you attach it to the sets’ technic frame. This is standard procedure for these buildable characters, but I loved how LEGO did it here. Instead of connecting via stud/anti-stud, the entire front and back connect by sliding technic axil pins into technic holes, letting gravity keep it in place. Similar to how the panels of the AT-ST Raider are attached, if you’re familiar. This technique is repeated for the back section of the torso, which is completely fine by me because of how satisfying it is to feel them almost ‘clamp’ into place.
The set includes exactly one sticker and that is the sticker used on the information plaque. I honestly expected this set to have many stickers, so seeing the tiny sticker sheet was a welcome surprise.
Considering all of the small details on this set, it’s incredibly impressive that they managed to include it all with no stickers or even printed pieces. Every detail you see is brick-built, which is ideal in my opinion.
The highlight feature of this set is definitely that third leg and its deployment. To get R2 to extend his third leg, you just lift the body and tilt it backwards a bit. The leg just ‘shoots’ out of the bottom automatically. I say you have to lift it up because you actually need to extend the feet a bit and move the body way more forward than feels natural. It’s a glorious mechanism, and the model looks incredible with it extended. It’s also very stable in both configurations. I much prefer the look of the model with the leg extended.
If you prefer the model with the third leg up, all you have to do is lift the body slightly, position it back to be parallel with its legs, and simply push the leg back up. Theres no hinge you need to worry about, it simply clicks nicely into place.
As you probably expect, the head piece can rotate 360 degrees without issue. This is maybe obvious, but it’s still worth pointing out.
Theres a feature that allows you to store Luke’s lightsaber from episode 6 in a compartment in the head. I think they missed an opportunity with this feature though. As it is, you have to manually remove a panel from his head and fish out the lightsaber yourself. I feel like they could’ve implemented a mechanism to do this for you, maybe utilising the hologram projector on his face. A spring loaded mechanism (maybe activated by pressing the hologram projector) to ‘launch’ it out of his head would’ve been perfect, in my opinion. It even would’ve allowed you to recreate the scene to a degree. It’s fine as it is, and it’s a nice feature, but there’s definitely a missed opportunity here, in my opinion.
Unlike its predecessor, this comes with an extendable periscope that you can pull out from the top of R2’s head. It rotates 360 degrees and has an inbuilt feature to not allow it to fall out from overextension. Theres a small gap in the back of R2’s head that allows you to easily deploy the periscope, but it’s not big enough so that it detracts from the look of the set. Unlike the lightsaber feature, I don’t think this feature needed an external mechanism to work it. I think its design is completely fine as is.
There are two pins on the back which I believe should have been covered with a dark blue 1×1 stud. The bright blue noticeably stands out from the rest of the blue of the model, when it should just blend in. This seems like a mistake to me. They look completely out of place when you view the model from behind. It seems like they ran out of space, as there’s a curved tile pushed up against one of the pins.
They could have switched the position of the 1×1 brick and the 1×2 technic brick and simply shift these pins to the left slightly to fix it, which would’ve allowed room for them to add the correct colour piece to the end. I modified my model to show you what I mean. Fortunately, it’s a simple modification, but it’s definitely an oversight in my opinion.
Around the back of the model, you’ll notice two cone pieces sticking out. When you push these in, there are two doors on the front which open up to reveal two different extendable arms. These are built with the hydraulic mechanism, so they move almost like you see in the movie. When you extend these by hand, you can almost envision them interacting with a control panel or taze-ing some droid.
Looking at movies-R2 as a reference, it’s amazing the amount of detail they managed to pack into this model. It honestly feels like the perfect LEGO rendition of this character. Some small details I appreciate are:
- The use of grey and black technic pins when attaching the openable doors which contain the extendable arms. The colours don’t stand out like the pins on the Ferrari f40/ AT-AT which is a bullet dodged I say.
- The ‘chute’ like grey slope towards the bottom of the model,
- The vents on the left and opening on the right hand side of the ‘d-pad’ shaped section in R2’s lower torso
- The texturing along the absolute bottom of the model’s body piece
- The use of the grey ‘shaved’ corner tile piece to recreate that shape on the model’s ‘shins’
- The general detail on the model’s face
(Photo Credit for Reference Model: Wookieepedia)
I do have some nitpicks which I believe could be remedied. Specifically I have three. I think the cylindrical piece on the top of r2’s head should be at more of an angle. This is probably the most difficult to remedy, and honestly could be a style decision over anything.
I think the section where the gold pipes connect from under the body should have another blue accent on a second hinge piece. This is easily moddable, and I can’t see any reason for LEGO to only include the one accent when there’s clearly two on the real thing. IF they were concerned with 1×1 tiles forming one continuous blue stripe, they could’ve used 1×1 circular tiles which would inherently have a gap between them. This is about as fixable as the section at the back of the head, I think.
Finally, I think the 1×1 hinged plate on each leg, which sticks out diagonally from the model should’ve been blue instead of grey.
It almost looks like a game of ‘Spot the Difference’. The changes are so subtle that they’re almost invisible. If anything, I think this is a testament to how well this set is designed that even when I nitpick the differences are minimal.
Aside from these nitpicks, the model is just so well detailed and good looking, it’s hard to find any faults with the design. A huge upgrade over the 2012 version, from what I’ve seen.
The set retails for €199.99 and contains 2,314 pieces and (kind of) one minifigure. In this instance I do think price-per-piece is a good metric for the value of this set. The finished model feels much weightier and much denser than I expected. Compared to the other brick-built characters, its noticeably larger and has much more display presence than them.
If you could get this while it’s on double VIP points, then €179.99 would be a great price, but even if you paid full price for this set I really do think it’s worth it. This set is a must-have if you own any of the other brick-built characters, as it really completes the collection. This set is honestly a must have even if you only collect UCS sets. It wouldn’t look out of place alongside them at all, because of its size and the plaque.
Looking at the set’s competition at €199.99, we see that it certainly has some. Its main competitors would be the UCS A-Wing, Stranger Things The Upside Down, the Ghostbusters ECTO-1, and the 1989 Batwing. Of these sets, I think it boils down to a few things.
- If you’re a Star Wars fan, I think this is your best option. This set is probably on par with the UCS A-Wing, so the biggest consideration would be what you already have. If you already have a collection of Brick-Built Characters, then R2 is 100% the better choice. Otherwise, if you have a UCS collection, it’s a coin-toss in all honesty. This set is a UCS R2D2 in all but name, so either set would fit in nicely to your collection. If you just want the better Star Wars set, I’d lean towards R2D2 by the slimmest of margins.
- Obviously, if you’re not a Star Wars fan but you are a fan of Ghostbusters/Batman/Stranger Things, then I don’t need to tell you which to get. Each are amazing sets for what they are, and you can’t go wrong with any of them.
- If you’re just a general fan of LEGO, with no real connections to any of them, I think the 1989 Batwing is the best set out of all at this price though.
This is an incredibly detailed, displayable model of one of the most iconic Star Wars characters of all time. An absolute must-have for any LEGO Star Wars fan.
Brick-Built Character Rank
Looking at the Brick-Built Character subtheme, I’m going to comfortably rank this 1st out of 8 sets. This set is twice the price of it’s nearest competitor, so it almost feels unfair to compare them. Nevertheless, it is easily the best one to date.
Star Wars Rank
Looking at all Star Wars sets I own, I’m going to rank this all the way up at 6th out of 45 sets. Like I said, this is a UCS set in all but name, so it finds itself within that company. I think it’s marginally better than the A-Wing, so I’m putting it a place above it.
All Sets Rank
Relative to my entire collection, I’m going to rank it 12th out of 102 sets. It was a difficult decision between this and the Stranger Things : The Upside Down set. Ultimately, the deciding factor was “which could I live without first?” I think R2-D2 is the more pivotal part of my collection, so I placed it above.
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